Council to consider huge pay hike next month

Council to consider huge pay hike next month

CORNWALL, Ontario – City council will decide next month on voting itself a big fat raise.

Recommendations from an outside firm were presented to city council Monday night and if they are approved, the mayor would see the biggest hike to nearly $75,000, including a $12,000 expense budget.

The mayor currently makes $63,100 a year, which also includes $12,000 for expenses.

Councillors would get a hefty raise too – going to a little more than $25,000 a year, from the existing salary that is nearly $18,000 a year (which also includes a $2,500 expense account).

A benefit package for the mayor would be maintained.

The raises would begin in 2015, following the October municipal election.

City council received the salary report Monday night from Krecklo Municipal Consultants, but won’t actually vote on the raises until July 14.

Consultant Brian Krecklo told council members they are underpaid.

“The ‘going rate’ should be paid to the mayor and councillors, based on the market survey, just as it would be done for all of the city’s full-time employees,” said Krecklo.

Similar-sized municipal councils in Ontario pay between $25,000 and $29,000 for a councillor and as much as $90,000 for a mayor.

Until then, you can expect a fairly healthy debate on what a council member is worth.

“I’m really looking forward to the feedback from the community at large. Really we’re all sitting here representing them. Let’s see what they have to say,” said Coun. Denis Thibault.

The numbers discussed left other council members stunned.

“I’m surprised by how our compensation rate compares to other cities,” said Coun. Bernadette Clement. “We have, in the past, tended to ignore whatever reports came forward that said we should increase our compensation rates.

“There is no good time to review something like this.”

Consultants warned against shelving plans to increase its rate of pay, because while job is steeped in the traditions of public service, given the number of hours the job now requires, many people cannot afford to put aside their more lucrative day job for lower pay as a council member.

“You would be, in particular with hours you are putting in here, you would be at a disadvantage,” said consultant Tom Gazda.

Council is required, by law, to review its compensation on a regular basis.

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